Many people are a lot irritated by the way Big Tech has exploited its data. "Data leaks" have become ever pervasive despite the Big Tech companies raking in trillions of dollars in profit every year. The data is then sold to many other companies that use this detailed data about an individual to send him annoying ads. The entire system of ad-tracking and the algorithm that goes behind it is opaque and, to many, unethical.
The debate on ethics has been raging on for two decades now and has only intensified; it seems that the consumers were losers yesterday and would be failures tomorrow as well. A ray of light emerged when Whatsapp encrypted all chats making private conversations ultimately private. However, that ray of hope was dashed after Facebook recently announced the change in its user agreement. The company went as far as to tell its users to leave the platform if they were too uncomfortable.
Most apps will assign a unique ID to your device and then track your movement across other apps and websites and trace your interests and hobbies to send your targeted ads. The companies will also make detailed profiles of users, including their demographic information, travel history, purchasing habits, and other minuscule life events that hold immense importance in the age of consumerism.
The only optimism that users can hope for is if one of the Big Tech companies themselves take up the cause of privacy. Though it was implausible, it has happened.
The new iOS update 14.5 is the salvation for privacy enthusiasts, which promises users that they will be asked if they want to be tracked across other apps and websites. For once, users can say no. The question will be posted in a pop-up while the new app is set up.
Although Apple has taken a firm stance over this issue before but has had limited practicality, the anti-ad tracking was deployed for years on Safari but has now come down to mobile phones. It has been hailed as a success by many privacy enthusiasts. Still, for companies whose entire revenue structure stands on ads such as Facebook, the move has been controversial. Facebook has been vocal against the new update ever since it was announced.
Apple's AppTrackingTransparency framework had made it compulsory for developers to allow users the option to turn off ad ID sharing. Still, now the framework has gone one step further and has given users a direct say in how their data is collected and by whom. This move will highlight and expose even those seemingly harmless apps which users might never have thought are used for ad tracking.
"We believe tracking should always be transparent and under your control," Katie Skinner, an Apple user privacy software manager, said at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last June. "So moving forward, App Store policy will require apps to ask before tracking you across apps and websites owned by other companies."